Strawberry Shortcake: Berry Friends Forever DVD Review: Berry Bland

Once upon a time, Strawberry Shortcake was aimed squarely at little girls. Originating as a greeting card character, then expanding into toys and her initial TV specials, the sweet and innocent character and her fruity friends were huge in the early ’80s. Since then, various brave souls have taken cracks at revamping the property, foisting multiple character redesigns on the public in the hopes of triggering another wave of popularity.

As you can see by the cover art of Strawberry’s latest DVD, she’s not such a little girl anymore. The current redesign implemented in 2009 aged up Strawberry and her friends in a bid to appeal to preteen girls. The characters are interested in fashion, hairstyles, and makeup, but they’re still overwhelmingly sweet and innocent.

Unfortunately, the writers of the current show are still stuck aiming for the youngest demographic, with bland, generic scripts that largely fail to capitalize on the older character designs. There’s no sarcasm in Berry Bitty City, very little comedy or wit, just achingly earnest characters in predictable one-off scenarios. As a result, there’s little of interest here for most girls over the age of about six, keeping the property confined to its original little-girl demographic.

The newest DVD follows the pattern of the previous DVD releases from the current TV series, compiling an assortment of episodes into one feature-length disc. There’s no rhyme or reason to the episode selection, no bridges between them, and the episodes here aren’t even from the latest seasons; they all date back to the original 2009 season. Since the studio isn’t very forthcoming about the episode titles, I’ll help out the curious parents.

In “Manners Meltdown”, Blueberry Muffin gets so involved in forcing others to use good manners that she forgets to use them herself. In “Good Citizens Club”, Plum Pudding learns that it’s ok to fit in with others as long as she stays true to herself. In “Team For Two”, Lemon Meringue and Raspberry Torte work together to clean up a playground, learning the value of teamwork. Finally, in “The Berry Best You Can Bee”, Strawberry Shortcake helps Postmaster Bee deliver the mail, helping others along the way.

Bonus features include a music video and a handful of excellent coloring pages. The DVD case itself is also a girlie bonus: a bright pink eyesore with sparkles embedded in the plastic.

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Steve Geise

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